Bond-a-Thond #9: ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’ (1974)

MTV Movies Blog is currently running what we call the Bond-a-Thond. Every Wednesday we’re taking a look back at a single (official) Bond film, giving you the vitals and seeing how it holds up, right up until the release of “Skyfall” on November 9. Feel free to watch along with us and share your thoughts or just kick back and enjoy the Bond.

The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)

Plot: The world’s greatest assassin has apparently set his golden sights on taking out his only worthy opponent, 007.

Title Meaning: It is the moniker of Francisco Scaramanga, the assassin at the heart of the plot, who uses a literal golden gun to kill his targets.

Bond: Roger Moore

Villain: Christopher Lee proves a worthy opponent for Bond as Scaramanga, the tri-nippled hit man who demands $1 million per kill.

Bond Girls: Andrea Anders, Scaramanga’s newest pre-kill lover, played by Maud Adams, and Mary Goodnight, an incompetent MI6 agent, played by Britt Ekland.

“Bond, James Bond” Occurrences: 3

Martinis: 0

Card Games: 0

Cigarettes Smoked: 4 cigars

Explosions: 16

Tuxes Worn: 1

Kills By Bond: 1

Most Creative Kill: The only kill by Bond in the film, during the climactic battle with Scaramanga, 007 pretends to be the assassin’s practice dummy.

Gadgets: The film’s MacGuffin, the key component for unlimited solar energy called the Solex, can also power a high-intensity cannon.

Mental State of Miss Moneypenny: Arbitrarily admonishing

First Occurrence of Sex: 1 hour, 13 minutes in (New record!)

Sexual Partners: 2 (Andrea Anders and Mary Goodnight)

Most Unrealistic Moments: To escape from Bond’s pursuit, Scaramanga and Nick Nack slaps a set of wings onto their car and fly away.

Most “Bond” Moments: When Bond finally beds Goodnight at the end of the film, M calls to see where she is. Bond casually informs him, “She’s just coming.”

Sign of the Times: Scaramanga’s assistant, Nick Nack, is repeatedly referred to as a midget. Bond even tells him matter-of-factly, “I’ve never killed a midget before.”

Place in Bond History: Though Scaramanga’s gun would go on to become one of the more recognizable Bond props thanks to the Nintendo 64 game “Goldeneye 007,” “The Man With the Golden Gun” marked a severe dip in box office returns for the series.

Review: What drags “The Man With the Golden Gun” down is how close it is to being a great Bond movie. From the word “go,” the premise draws you in. The world’s greatest assassin lacks a proper challenge and seeks a showdown with Bond for one final thrill. Great! We’re on board. No maniacal madman is trying to flood a particular market with a particular product. It’s such a change of pace.

But there’s more to “The Man With the Golden Gun” than Francisco Scaramanga and the delightful performance by Christopher Lee. There’s Nick Nack, whose dwarfism amounts to nothing more than a reoccurring joke. Then there’s Britt Ekland’s Goodnight, a buffoon, only present to muck up Bond’s plan and create more problems. Once you add in Scaramanga’s plan to sell off the solar energy technology to the highest bidder, you’ve arrived back at an average Bond movie. The film even ends with a tacked on lair explosion.

None of this, thankfully, is able to completely ruin the sweeter parts of “The Man With the Golden Gun.” Lee’s Scaramanga presents a genuine physical opponent to Bond, at least at first, and their dinner table conversation about their enjoyment of killing comes straight out of a better Bond movie.

The Bond-a-Thond will return next week in “The Spy Who Loved Me.”

What do you think of “The Man With the Golden Gun”? Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter!